Friday, August 08, 2014

Rivals of Morning, poems by Matthew D'Abate

"All At Once, Light Slips in Like a Blade"
Rivals of Morning, poems by Matthew D'Abate

Matthew D'Abate lives in metaphor ("we wait like gypsies/screaming for dreams", "dabs of black ink in the/picture show of the centuries", " his puddles of blue/watching the sunlight drip/from his fingertips." ) His scattered images spray like a peeling black fireplug on the hottest day of summer. Rivals of Morning is street poetry, the dirty, littered, hopeful, heart-filled city street, off which he tends bars, tells tales, and writes poems, some of which are gathered in this, his vital and decisive, first collection.

Matt is an American writer, an American poet, self-invented, self-proclaimed, democratic in his inclinations, alert to the possibilities around him and willing to spill his blood in service of his art. This is no academy bred, MFA toting, painfully self-aware technician of the lyric line, but a guy who illuminates his poems, with sweat imagination, vulnerability and candor. His ambitions are smaller than Whitman's; he's not looking to invent an American poetry, or to reinvent it today, but in his self-construction, he follows the inventive, original line carrying from Whitman, through Kerouac to Bukowski. His subject matter, "rivals of morning"--those of us who live in the night world--and his sensitive embrace of their experience and dilemmas, place him deep in the tradition of artists who've memorably mined the diamond in coal vein of the American night, Hopper, Hammett, Kazan, Selby, Bukowski, and Waits, extending it across the millennial divide with verve, quirk and pathos.

I've seen you
a thousand nights
doing your thing
and I've always wanted
to know what
you'd be like
when the door closes
and you're only paid
to serve

Rivals of Morning, is the poetry of a young artist as jazz innovator, one who spent years blowing behind the woodshed before going public with this brave and savage volume. Reading "Rivals" is like listening to Charlie Parker play Cherokee, or looking at an early Pollack, D'Abate has cracked something open, blowing licks never heard before, fresh, confident, divergent, potent with possibility. Rivals of Morning is one of those rare books of poems whose energy, spice, passion and bloody truth surge past its flaws, a flash flood in an arroyo. Our eyes see the unneeded word, the awkward construction, the metaphoric disconnects, but these burrs don't catch; Matthew's images and his drive to communicate are too strong. Rivals of Morning brings us through the aching point, far past the hiss of dawn, where light cannot be held back a moment longer, into the flash when the shade goes up and light comes flooding through.

the thing is that no one
owns the light or the direction of it

but grows toward the glow
despite the silence
and the gravity below

Read Rivals of Morning; better still, get your friends to read it too; go out with them to your version of the Cedar, the San Remo, or the Whitehorse, and discuss it with them loudly. Twenty-years from now, you'll wake up and say, "I remember that night. I remember I read it when."

Marc Zegans

Marc Zegans, is a poet and creative development advisor based in Santa Cruz California.  He’s recently completed, Lyon Street, a collection of poems about San Francisco during his coming of age in the late seventies and early eighties.

No comments:

Post a Comment